Superintendent tapped as Pa. education chief
By The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:33 p.m.
HARRISBURG — The superintendent of a large suburban Harrisburg school district will be Gov. Tom Corbett's nominee for education secretary and replace Ron Tomalis, who after a busy and rocky two-year tenure will move into an advisory role in the administration, Corbett said on Wednesday.
William Harner of the Cumberland Valley School District in Cumberland County will become the acting secretary June 1, Corbett said. He will require Senate confirmation to take the job of secretary.
Harner, a retired Army officer, will bring public school experience to an administration stacked with advocates for private, parochial, charter and cybercharter schools. In an interview Wednesday, he said the public school teachers in Cheltenham Township outside Philadelphia, where he grew up, “changed my world and my opportunities.”
“I was lucky to be in a great district, and in this role I'm going to do my best to make sure every district is a great district,” Harner said.
Corbett did not explain the reason for the change and an administration spokesman did not return messages Wednesday. Tomalis was not quoted in the statement, and he was replaced at two public speaking events Tuesday by one of his top deputies.
Corbett, a Republican, called Harner “an effective problem solver able to unite all sides in a common goal of educational excellence.” Tomalis, he said, worked hard to make Pennsylvania's public education system benefit all students.
The Department of Education oversees more than $14 billion in state and federal money for Pennsylvania's public schools, charter schools, libraries, universities and colleges, making it one of the state's most important agencies.
Tomalis declined interview requests Wednesday through an Education Department spokesman.
Tomalis had some successes and some failures as Corbett aggressively tried to empower private and charter schools while challenging school boards to stop raising taxes and universities to stop raising tuition.
A top Corbett priority of creating the state's first school voucher program to help low-income students in struggling public schools died in the Legislature, although it resulted in an expanded tax credit designed to achieve the same goal.
Tomalis served at a time when Corbett imposed deep cuts in aid to schools and universities to balance the disappearance of federal aid to bail out recession-wracked state budgets. The cuts in public school aid, which fell most heavily on the state's poorest school districts, sped the near-collapse of the Chester-Upland district in southeastern Pennsylvania before state lawmakers and federal courts intervened. Democratic lawmakers warn that the cuts to school aid have severely weakened many more of the state's poorest districts.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- York teen suspended for asking Miss America to prom
- Philanthropist helps waitress become nurse
- Pennsylvania sting scouted private liquor store sites
- Philadelphia robbers steal $105K from armored truck
- Race for lieutenant governor often overlooked in Pennsylvania
- Tobacco companies expected to contest Pennsylvania’s settlement on payments
- Young Pakistani immigrant linked to Pennsylvania woman known as ‘Jihad Jane’ sentenced to prison